In this article, we shall be looking at 7 important health benefits of Kakadu Plum fruit and why you shouldn’t hesitate to eat it. Apart from the health benefits, it is wise for you to also note that there is some potential risk associated with this fruit especially to some certain group of people. Read along to get all the information you need to know.
The Kakadu plum (Terminalia ferdinandiana), also known as Gubinge or Billygoat plum, is a small fruit found in the Eucalypt open woodlands across Northern Australia. It is pale green with a stone in the center, over half an inch (1.5–2 cm) long, and weighs 0.1–0.2 ounces (2–5 grams). It’s fibrous and has a tart, bitter taste.
In traditional medicine, Kakadu plum were used to treat colds, the flu, and headaches. They were also utilized as an antiseptic or soothing balm for the limbs. More recently, they have been recognized for their high nutritional value. Now, let us look at the important benefits.
7 Health Benefits of Kakadu Plum
Here are 7 health benefits of Kakadu plums.
Kakadu plums are low in calories and rich in nutrients, providing a quality source of fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
Here is the nutritional breakdown of 3.5 ounces (100 grams) of the edible part of the fruit:
- Calories: 59
- Protein: 0.8 grams
- Carbs: 17.2 grams
- Dietary fiber: 7.1 grams
- Fat: 0.5 grams
- Sodium: 13 mg
- Vitamin C: 3,230% of the Daily Value (DV)
- Copper: 100% of the DV
- Iron: 13.3% of the DV
It is especially high in vitamin C, a potent antioxidant that protects your body from damage caused by reactive molecules known as free radicals.
Additionally, it’s an excellent source of copper, which is used to form red blood cells, bones, connective tissue, and important enzymes, as well as support proper immune system function and fetal development.
Kakadu plums are also rich in iron, which is essential for oxygen transport throughout your body and red blood cell production.
In addition, they are a good source of dietary fiber, which protects against constipation, colon cancer, and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and promotes gut health and blood sugar control
Finally, Kakadu plum provide smaller amounts of thiamine, riboflavin, magnesium, zinc, and calcium, all of which are essential micronutrients for good health.
Richest Food Source of Vitamin C
Kakadu plum have the highest recorded natural amount of vitamin C of any food in the world. In fact, 3.5 ounces (100 grams) of the fruit provide well over 3,000% of your daily needs.
For reference, the same serving of oranges contains 59.1% of the DV, while the same amount of blueberries provides just 10.8% of the DV.
Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that boosts the immune system, reduces oxidative stress, and may play a role in collagen synthesis, iron absorption, heart health, memory, and cognition.
For example, in adults with high blood pressure, a 500-mg dose of vitamin C reduced systolic blood pressure (the top number) by 4.85 mm Hg and diastolic blood pressure (the bottom number) by 1.67 mm Hg.
Additionally, an analysis of 15 studies noted that people with diets high in vitamin C had a 16% lower risk of heart disease than people with low vitamin C intake.
Eating foods high in vitamin C can also aid the absorption of plant sources of iron.
In fact, adding 100 mg of vitamin C to a meal can improve iron absorption by 67%. This may be particularly useful for vegetarians, vegans, and people with iron deficiency.
The vitamin C content of Kakadu plums drops rapidly after picking, so the fruits are usually frozen for transport and sale.
Furthermore, the vitamin C content of these fruits is likewise reduced when they are cooked. One experiment discovered that a Kakadu plum sauce provided 16.9% less vitamin C than the raw fruits.
Nevertheless, Kakadu plums remain an excellent source of vitamin C, be it fresh or cooked.
Good Source of Ellagic Acid
Kakadu plum is rich in a type of organic acid known as ellagic acid.
Ellagic acid is a polyphenol known for being a strong antioxidant. It’s also commonly found in strawberries, boysenberries, walnuts, and almonds.
It has been linked to numerous health benefits, including anticancer, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and prebiotic effects.
For example, test-tube and animal studies have shown that ellagic acid can block tumor growth and cause tumor cell death in a variety of cancers.
However, more research in humans is needed to understand the health effects of dietary ellagic acid.
Currently, there are no recommendations regarding daily ellagic acid intake. Some reports estimate the average daily intake to be approximately 4.9–12 mg.
Kakadu plums contain roughly 228–14,020 mg of ellagic acid per 3.5 ounces (100 grams) of dried fruit. The exact amount is determined by the tree, climate, soil conditions, ripeness, and storage conditions
Great Source of Antioxidants
Kakadu plums are an excellent source of antioxidants. They contain 6 times the amount of polyphenols and 13.3 times more antioxidant activity than blueberries.
Antioxidants help neutralize unstable molecules called free radicals. Excess numbers of these molecules can harm your body and cause oxidative stress.
Free radicals develop naturally, but poor diet, as well as environmental toxins like air pollution and cigarette smoke, can increase their numbers.
Additionally, research has found that free radicals are linked to health problems like cancer, brain degeneration, diabetes, autoimmune conditions, and heart and kidney disease.
Antioxidants can bind to excess free radicals, protecting your cells against their toxic effects.
Aside from vitamin C and ellagic acid, Kakadu plum contain many other antioxidants, including
- Flavonols: These are linked to heart health and may have stroke-reducing, cancer-fighting, and antiviral effects. The main types in Kakadu plums are kaempferol and quercetin.
- Aromatic acids: In Kakadu plums, the main types are ellagic and gallic acid. Gallic acid is associated with neurodegenerative disease prevention.
- Anthocyanins: They are the colored pigments in fruit and associated with good urinary tract health, a lower risk of some cancers, healthy aging, and improved memory and eye health.
- Lutein: This antioxidant is a carotenoid that is linked to eye health and may protect against macular degeneration and heart disease.
The high antioxidant content and activity of Kakadu plums means they may help prevent and fight disease. Still, more research is needed to determine the effects of the fruit itself.
May Have Cancer-fighting Properties
The nutrients in Kakadu plum may help prevent and fight cancer.
Test-tube studies have indicated that extracts from the fruit have anti-inflammatory properties that may help prevent some types of cancer.
These extracts also promote cancer cell death in test-tube studies, which is an important immune defense against cancer and cell mutations.
Additionally, the fruits are high in ellagic and gallic acids, which have been shown to be toxic to cancer cells in test-tube studies.
May Protect Against Inflammatory Diseases
Kakadu plum may help protect against inflammatory diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis.
Rheumatoid arthritis can be triggered by certain infections. Test-tube studies indicate that Kakadu fruit and leaf extract inhibited the bacteria that cause these infections.
This effect is likely due to this fruit’s high tannin content, which comes from ellagitannins — a form of ellagic acid.
Though this research is promising, more evidence is needed.
May offer Natural Antibacterial Properties
Kakadu plums have natural antibacterial properties that could make them useful for preserving foods and preventing foodborne illnesses.
Research has shown that their extracts, seeds, bark, and leaves inhibit the growth of common food pathogens, such as Listeria monocytogenes .
Therefore, food preservation solutions using Kakadu plum extract may be a natural and safe alternative to synthetic methods.
In addition, the antibacterial, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory properties of the fruit have led to its use in some skin care and acne-fighting products.
However, there is little scientific evidence to support the benefits of the topical application of Kakadu plum extract.
Potential Risks Associated With Kakadu Plum
Kakadu plums are very high in both oxalates and vitamin C.
While most people can eliminate excess amounts of these substances, in sensitive individuals, high intake has been linked to the formation of kidney stones.
Risk factors include genetics and kidney and inflammatory diseases.
Those at risk may need to limit their dietary oxalate intake to 40–50 mg per day. The Kakadu plum contains 2,717 mg of oxalate per 3.5 ounces (100 grams) of dried fruit, far exceeding these limits.
Sensitive individuals should also limit their intake of vitamin C to the dietary reference intake of 90 mg per day.
How to Add Kakadu Plum to Your Diet
Kakadu plum can be eaten fresh, but because they’re very fibrous and sour, they’re more commonly used in jams, preserves, sauces, and juices.
To maintain their size and quality, Kakadu plums are typically frozen directly after harvesting. Specialty retailers may sell the fruits frozen whole or puréed.
Additionally, the fruits are often freeze-dried and turned into a powder.
The powder can be sprinkled over breakfast cereal and added to smoothies, juices, protein balls, salad dressings, and desserts.
Some companies also use the powder in their supplement formulations. Yet, there is little research on the health benefits of Kakadu plum in this form.
Kakadu plums are a native Australian fruit that boasts the highest level of vitamin C of any food in the world.
The fruits are also low in calories yet high in fiber, copper, iron, and various antioxidants.
Though research on their health benefits is limited, their anticancer, anti-inflammatory, and antibacterial properties show promise for managing or preventing a range of health conditions.